December 15, 2019 – On Friday, December 13, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s Youth Professionals Network brought the Houston Jewish teen community together for a pre-Chanukah Global Teen Shabbat. More than 150 Jewish teens in grades 8-12, from different denominations and multiple youth groups and synagogues, joined in services, dinner and a Lego menorah building program at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.
The Network, facilitated by Federation’s Managing Director of Jewish Education Lisa Klein, worked with a Teen Steering Committee to plan a dynamic and inclusive evening. The teens on the planning committee represented Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Congregation Brith Shalom, UOS, Kehillah High, JSU, NCSY, and BBYO.
The Houston Jewish Teens Global Shabbat was planned to coordinate with BBYO’s Global Shabbat initiative, celebrated in 58 communities in the United States, 20 in Israel, and 65 additional communities in 22 countries around the world. Each community decides how to celebrate, but Houston was unique in partnering with the entire Jewish community on such a large scale. The Teens secured funding from a Houston Jewish Community Foundation grant to make it happen.
“It was inspiring to see how our community’s teens created an experience for the entire Jewish community. They are wonderful models of pluralism and collaboration, and the Houston Jewish community is lucky to have such great rising leaders,” said Sarah Yonas, BBYO Lonestar Regional Director.
“I love how the greater Houston Jewish community was excited to join with BBYO on the weekend designated as Global Shabbat. It was so special to know that we were celebrating with tens of thousands of other Jewish teens around the world!” said Teen Committee member Jadyn Grossman.
The Houston Jewish Teens Global Shabbat, offered two Kabbalat Shabbat services, one with a mechitza and another with musical accompaniment, and three divrei torah by teens from different synagogues who shared their thoughts on their experiences during both the planning and execution of the evening’s program.
After dinner the teens worked together to assemble a giant Lego Chanukiyah that was over 12 feet tall as part of a Building Blocks Workshop led by David and Darlene Schwartz. The evening ended with dismantling the Chanukiyah to show that as each Lego piece was important in the Chanukiyah, so, too, is each person in our Jewish community.
Thank you to the Houston Jewish Community Foundation for their generous support of Global Shabbat.